Dill rice is another traditional dish of Persian cuisine. As said in my post on Kuku Sabzi I had the privilege of learning to make this simple, yet flavourful dish from our Iranian friend. Rice forms an important part of the cuisine and is served along with other side dishes, soups, stews, kebabs etc. It may be served plain or during occasions it is made with meat/fish/chicken along with vegetables and beans. Herbs like saffron, dill are used to enhance the flavour. There are many varieties of rice available in Iran and its said that Indian Basmati rice is similar to these varieties. The rice used in occasions, grown in Iran are known for their aroma.
My love for Persian cuisine lead me into researching more about the Persian techniques and came up with some information that I would like to share it with everyone.
There are three methods of cooking rice in Iran- Kateh, Damy and Polo.
In Kateh method rice is cooked until the water is completely absorbed.
The Damy method is similar to Kateh but at the start of cooking other ingredients like beans are also added to rice, heat is reduced minimum and cooked.
Here I have mentioned the Polo method of preparation where the rice is steamed in its own moisture. The rice is added to boiling salted water and cooked until the grains are no longer crunchy but firm. The rice(then called Chelo) is then drained using a colander. The pot used for cooking rice is greased with enough oil and rice mixed with chopped fresh dill is added in spoonfuls, heaped into a mound without touching the sides of the pot. The rice is then poked to make holes to allow the steam to pass. The top of the pot is covered with a towel to trap steam and the lid is placed tightly on top of this. This is then cooked until the rice is done. After cooking time a golden crust of rice(called Tah-deeg) forms at the bottom of the pot which is taken out by placing the pot in cold water and served along with the cooked rice.Instead of the golden rice crust, thin breads or tortillas or sliced raw potatoes may be placed at the bottom of the pot with the rice placed on top of this. The crusty, crunchy golden bread/tortillas are served along with rice. As I'm not very fond of having the crusty rice I have not used it here. This method of preparation yields fluffy rice, where the grains are completely separated and do not stick. A small amount of rice is taken, mixed with saffron and garnished by sprinkling over the rest of the rice.
Dill rice with Kuku Sabzi & Grilled Fish
1 cup uncooked Basmati rice/Long grain rice
1 cup chopped dill
Few strands of saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp warm water
Salt to taste
Few tortilla strips(optional)
Water for cooking rice
2 tbsp oil(or more)
- In a large pot bring salted water to boil. The amount of water should be more than double the amount of rice.
- Add washed rice and cook for about 5-8 minutes or until the grains are no longer crunchy but still firm.
- Drain the rice in a colander and mix with chopped dill.
- Add oil to the pot and then add rice slowly until it is heaped to a mound not touching the sides of the pot.
- Poke holes in the rice to allow steam to pass through.
- Cover the top of the pot with a towel to trap steam and place the lid of the pot tightly on top of this.
- Cook at medium heat for few minutes, then turn heat to low and cook until the rice is well cooked. It may take about 20 minutes or more for this step depending on the rice you use.
- After this stage a golden crust of rice should be formed at the bottom of the pot which is taken out by placing the pot in cold water. If you need golden crusty bread instead of rice, place few tortilla strips at the bottom of pot and then heap the rice on top of this and cook.
- Transfer the rice to a serving bowl.
- Take a small amount of rice, mix with saffron dissolved in water and garnish by sprinkling on top on of the rest of the rice.
- Serve with broken strips of golden crusty rice along with Kuku Sabzi and Grilled Fish. Enjoy!
Other Middle-Eastern dishes: